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Guest Interview: Clean Air – Cool Planet

Posted by The NativeEnergy Team on Oct 22, 2009
Tags: greensburg wind farm, proj. supporter program

The second in our series of guest interviews with the Charter Supporters for the Greensburg Wind Farm is with Bob Sheppard of Clean Air – Cool Planet.

Clean Air – Cool Planet has a vision: a world where global warming is not a problem. According to Bob Sheppard, the chief operating officer of the 501c(3) non-profit partner of NativeEnergy, they are in the business of solving the global warming problem by engaging large institutions.

In addition to serving as COO, Bob manages the corporate program, encouraging businesses to take voluntary action on climate change. If you’ve seen any of the early videos NativeEnergy put together to talk about climate change, you may have heard Bob’s voice as he narrated several of them.

When asked why it was important for Clean Air – Cool Planet to support the Greensburg Wind Farm, Bob explained that the Greensburg Wind Farm “represents an example of some of the opportunities available to communities to reduce their dependence on imported fossil fuels linked to climate change.” He continues, “We have developed a grass-tops approach encouraging campuses, communities, science centers, and corporations to reduce their emissions through a range of pragmatic solutions which support effective policy at the federal level.”

Energy efficiency is at the core of reducing emissions, Bob continued, but “local offsets, like a community wind farm are the kinds of projects that people can get excited about, because they cut our reliance on some of the key sources of carbon pollution while promoting local economies. Greensburg also represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to design a community using the best available technology, and what we have learned in terms of municipal planning.”

Clean Air – Cool Planet and NativeEnergy have worked together since NativeEnergy got its start in 2001. Of the early days, Bob describes, “This was a somewhat abstract concept to me until I carpooled out to the ceremony for the Alex Little Soldier Wind Turbine that NativeEnergy helped build. When those spinning blades popped up on the horizon against the cloudy South Dakota sky, our efforts to engage partners suddenly became much more tangible. Every electron it generates translates into less coal being burned, less CO2 entering our atmosphere.”

Carbon offsetting is but one component of Clean Air – Cool Planet’s long-range strategy. On their website, you’ll see that they’ve developed a number resources that target key audiences: Getting to Zero: Defining Corporate Carbon Neutrality, Campus Carbon Calculator™ (http://www.cleanair-coolplanet.org/toolkit/inv-calculator.php), Climate Change Backpack® (http://www.sciencecentercollaborative.org/backpack.php ), the Community Toolkit and Small Town Carbon Calculator (http://www.cleanair-coolplanet.org/for_communities/index.php), and the Guide to Carbon Offsets.

I asked Bob what Clean Air – Cool Planet’s commitment to sustainability meant to him personally. He said, “I was drawn by the chance to work in the non-profit sector directly with corporate decision makers on a brand-new endeavor. As the parent of two high school students, I was concerned about the fate of the planet that they will one day inherit.” After nine years of working toward the vision of a world where climate change is seen not as a problem but as an opportunity to move towards a low carbon economy, Bob says, “Today, I am proud to say that my daughter is enrolled in a well-respected environmental studies program at Colby College and has been dropping hints that she wants my job when she graduates in 2011.”

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